The Appalachian Trail in Georgia: The Beginning of my Journey

Trail Day: 0

Sunday, March 21, 2021

  • Location: Amtrak Crescent train #19
  • Start/End Time: None
  • Weather Conditions: Blue Skies

This morning 20 minutes into our drive to the train station I realized I still had my slippers on and my hiking boots were sitting next to our front door. Sometimes I’m a real dummy. I turned around, Will instantly checked his phone to make sure we would make it to the train station. It was going to be tight.

After grabbing the boots and biting her nails I made it to the train on time. There may have been some speeding, don’t tell the cops!

After a full year of being together it was extremely difficult to say goodbye to Will. It was harder than it has ever been before. But knowing my biggest adventure yet was ahead of me and he believes in me is enough. I couldn’t ask for a more amazing and supportive partner to spend my life with.

My first train, the empire service from Albany to Penn station, is a trip I’ve taken many times before. It was quick and easy, mostly thanks to my friend AJ. He let me borrow his Shutter streaming access to watch season two of “A Discovery of Witches.”

Two hours after stopping at Penn station and I boarded Crescent number 19 to Atlanta. I booked a room at to myself so I could takeoff my mask and stretch out. Unfortunately, the WiFi I didn’t work so no more streaming . Whomp whomp.

Throughout the day I received so many amazing emails, messages, and phone calls full of well wishes and so much love. I truly feel this is exactly where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. The universe is telling me I’m in the right place. I’m so thankful to be where I am enable to go on this epic journey.

Tomorrow is a big day, hopefully I can get some sleep.

Trail Day: 1

Monday, March 22, 2021

  • Location: Black Gap Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 10:30/4:30
  • Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy and with wind at the end of the day.

I slept awful last night and have been up since 5 AM. I’m absolutely exhausted.

This morning, the train got in at 8 AM, 15 minutes early. Thankfully Kat, from the Curvy Kili Crew, was able to pick me up and bring me to Amicalola Falls State Park. We had a great chat on the way and we solved all the worlds problems.

Upon arrival, I went to check in. My pack with 35 pounds and I’m hiker 1000-something to start the 80 this year NOBO (northbound). Kat came over to the orange, the start of the approach Trail to Springer Mountain, and took some pictures for me. Springer Mountain is the official start of the 2193.1 miles of the 80 this year.

After she left I teared up… A lot. I pretty much cried all the way to the base of the 700-ish stairs I had to climb to get the to the top of the Amicalola Falls.

The stairs are no joke! Climbing them with a 35 pound backpack is tough. I was seriously questioning why I decided to do the extra 8.8 miles of the approach trail when I didn’t have to.

When I reach the top of the stairs I start to see more AT thru-hikers. I leapfrog a bunch of people and child with several of them. Everyone has been super nice so far!

I took a couple of breaks throughout the day to take my shoes off and dry my feet as they always get sweaty. No blisters and no big pains. But I do have a splitting headache. I think it’s a combination of being exhausted and a little dehydrated.

Well I could’ve made it to Springer Mountain shelter in the official start of the 80 before dark I was so tired I decided to stay at Black Gap shelter. That ended up being a great decision because I found out later that Springer Mountain shelter was full by 2 PM today.

I practice setting up my tent rain fly first as we’re supposed to get a bunch of rain later this week. It was a little tricky at first but as time goes on I’ll get the hang of it and hopefully stay dry will setting up my tent.

At the moment I’m struggling to stay awake, I promised myself I wouldn’t go to bed till 730. Fingers crossed I can make it!

Trail Day: 2

Tuesday , March 23, 2021

  • Location: Hawk Mountain Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8ish/3ish
  • Weather Conditions: Partly Cloudy with wind gusts and sprinkles

Woke up early and it was still dark out! Did a bit more sleeping then picked up. My stuff is everywhere. It’s going to be fun doing this in the rain.

Took a little over an hour to do the 1.6 mile uphill to the official start of the AT at Springer Mountain. I have the summit all to myself! Took some photos, sign the log, and I was off!

My legs are feeling great! This morning I made great time, but saw very few people. I was able to take plenty of breaks to snack and put my feet up with my shoes off.

Most of the morning I walked through a rhododendron hell and it was beautiful. All the branches were intertwined. I bet it’s beautiful when the flowers bloom. I also cross some roads and met lots of day hikers.

In the afternoon I started feeling some hotspots on my feet and a bit of shaving. I ended up stopping to take care of it. At this point it was around noon so I put my headphones on to listen to some music and an audiobook.

After that my feet starting to hurt a bit so I took a long break near Long Creek Falls. The falls were pretty and saw lots of day hikers.

It was a slow and steady uphill all the way Hawk Mountain shelter. This is where I stopped for the night. Today’s total mileage was 9.6 miles

Eating dinner at 4 PM as a funny thing because you’re starving but then you’re hungry again before going to bed. I’m at lots of people at the shelter and I’m excited to get to know them better. However I didn’t see any of them on the trail today so maybe we have a different pace, we’ll see.

Just after 7 PM and started to rain. Hopefully there won’t be too much rain tomorrow. If there is I’m considering sleeping in the shelter tomorrow night.

Trail Day: 3

Wednesday , March 24, 2021

  • Location: Gooch Gap
  • Start/End Time: 9/4:15
  • Weather Conditions: Humid and Cloudy

Slept terrible last night because I set my tent up in a slant. All night I felt like I was going to roll down and out of my tent. On top of that it was windy and rained a bit.

Packing my bag is getting easier, but still wish everything was just in bags.

Left at 9-ish. I think I was one of the first people up and out this morning. Big uphill to start off with, then down, then up again. Before I knew it I had done 3 miles and everyone from camp had caught up with me.

Took off my shoes and socks for a break. Heard about some trail magic from some SOBO hikers at Gooch Gap.

In the morning I mostly hiked through pines and oaks. Spotted some little pink and white flowers in the side of the trail. They put a smile on my face.

The afternoon was mostly Rhododendron hell again. Stopped to rest at a random camp site as my feet were giving me trouble. Hopefully, they’ll get used to hiking soon.

Ended up by a stream .2 miles from Gooch Mountain Shelter. Canceled up as I didn’t know the water situation there and was still going to try for Gooch Gap. The stream was so beautiful. I sat and filtered my water, listened to music, and did some singing. Definitely the high point of my day.

Made it to the shelter, rested my feet, and chatted with some other thru hikers. One of the guys ended up joining me.

There was trail magic! A guy called Trail Devil gave me a Bud Light and it was the best Bud Light I’ve ever tasted!

My he crew tonight consisted of 3 guys in their 50s, a guy in his late 30s and me. I taught the older guys the PCT bear hang. It made me feel like I knew what I was doing.

Unfortunately, we’ve got a flash flood warning starting tonight a 2am and going until Friday morning. Tomorrow is going to suck! Plus, I learned that Mountain Crossing’s Hostel is closed, so no bed until Hiawassee on Sunday night or Monday.

Trail Day: 4

Thursday , March 25, 2021

  • Location: Woods Hole Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8:30/3:30
  • Weather Conditions: All the rain all day and thunderstorms in the afternoon

Slept like shit again last night. Didn’t fall asleep until 2 AM. Then I was up at 7:45, ugh.

The practice of putting up and taking down my tent with the fly still up really paid off this morning. All my stuff was dry while packing up in the rain.

While the morning was raining it was great. I made amazing time and my reindeer kept me good and dry. Walking through a mess was spectacular and I felt like I was in a fairytale.

At what are you up I got to use the actual bathroom in the parking lot. That’s when John and Jake Trail names Hangry Hatter and Heavy Metal caught up with me. I kept walking when I saw a whole crew of other hikers came out of the woods behind them.

Around 12 I put my headphones in, did some singing and hiking and crash some miles! At that point everyone was still behind me.

At lunchtime I hate with Hangry Hatter. He’s been at camp with me the past few nights in our pay/mileage are similar. We stopped for lunch and Heavy Metal joined us soon afterwards. This is where we met up with Goat and Hoagie. We were all headed to the same place, once whole shelter.

After lunch everyone was walking faster than me so I put my headphones back in. Linds, my oldest of the nanny kids, help me make my playlist and a bunch of the songs she put on there played. It made me smile.

About 2 miles, of the 11.2 I needed to hike in total that day, from Woods Hole Shelter I hate the wall. I was completely soaked and really cold. It was thundering and lightning out to. A lightning bolt landed so close to me I cried. I cried for a good 20 minutes while hiking and I’m still a little bit in shock.

Finally the sign reading “shelter” Appear in front of me. Little did I know the shelter was .4 miles from the AT. When I finally reach the shelter I receive chairs and clapping it felt really great. Today really sucked but the fact that I made those miles makes me feel like I am meant to be out here.

When I went to change out of my wet clothes I realized I hadn’t zipped up the sides of my rain pants after stopping to pee earlier. So for the 3 hours I hiked after lunch water was getting in. Sometimes I feel like the dumbest person in the world.

Several other people arrived after me and the shelter was full and there were several people in tents outside.

Everything is soaked, but I’m warm and dry for the night.

Trail Day: 5

Friday , March 26, 2021

  • Location: Baggs Creek Gap
  • Start/End Time: 9/5
  • Weather Conditions: Warm in the morning, hot in the afternoon 

Another night of terrible sleep. The storm from yesterday got even bigger last night with lots of rain and thunder. With 5 people stuffed in the shelter it was crazy. Really hoping for better sleep tonight.

It was a slow start for everyone getting things organized after a night of rain. I didn’t leave until 9.

Since we stayed half way up Blood Mountain the climb to the summit didn’t take very long. Everything was muddy from last nights storm, but the trail is well maintained in this section so it was in good shape.

Reaching the summit of Blood Mountain is the first big AT milestone. It was a beautiful clear day too! It felt, for the first time, that I was making progress. My mileage has been low and while I know I’m taking it slow on purpose sometimes it’s hard to know I’ve only done 29 miles in 4 days. (Day 1 was not officially the AT) But this summit and spectacular views made my day!

Coming down Blood Mountain with Goat and Hoagie we got a little off trail and had to climb back up some slippery rock. It wasn’t far thankfully. The rest of the was down was muddy with lots of water draining down the mountain. Hangry Hiker caught up with us and I ended up walking and talking with him. He’s great company and I hope I get to hike with him for a while.

Arriving a Neel’s Gap aka Mountain Crossing was AMAZING! Instant trail magic in the form of Snickers bars left at a kiosk and a hiker box full of goodies were I got a bottle of coke and some sunscreen. We spent about an hour there drying out our gear resupplying, and eating pizza.

At Neel’s Gap, there is a tree full of shoes and boots. I don’t know if this tree has a name, but I’m calling it the shoe tree. It is full of shoes and boots from hikers that have quit upon arrival at Neel’s Gap. I’m happy to say my shoes are not in that tree!

In the afternoon my feet were giving me some trouble, so I slowed down. When I get it Hiawassee I’m going to get some new shoes. My boots are wet from the rain and I need to get some that dry faster so I can keep my feet in good shape. 

After lots of resting, soaking my feet a bit, and a few episodes of the Office Ladies Podcast and I made it to Baggs Creek Gap where several of us agreed to meet when we departed Neel’s Gap.

Not exactly sure what my plans are for tomorrow, I just know it’s going to rain again. Setting an alarm to wake up early so I can get moving before the rain starts.

Trail Day: 6

Saturday, March 27, 2021

  • Location: Blue Mountain Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 6:15/5
  • Weather Conditions: Cool, cloudy, and windy with lite rain.

Today was an emotional roller coaster to say the least!

Last night the Tramily (trail family) which consists of Hangry Hiker, Heavy Metal, Hoagie, and Goat all decided to get up early and head out before the storm hit. The plan for most of us was to get to the next shelter.

I, again, didn’t sleep last night. I’ve been awake since 3am, so it was easy to get up and out before everyone. I’m usually in the move first because I’m the slowest. So the goal today is 7.2 miles to the next shelter before the storm hits.

I started hiking in the dark, which I hate. It was terrifying, but I did it and completely nearly 2 miles in the dark! As the sun came up it began raining a little.

At about 4 miles in, I was tired, my feet hurt, and I was questioning why I was doing this. I called Sweet William, my boyfriend, no answer. I texted my support crew, but they were all busy or sleeping, then I lost service. There were tears. It wasn’t pretty, and I wanted to stop walking right there. Then, this very sweet female hiker came up behind me and asked if I was OK. I told her I was having a hard day and she walked and talked with me for a bit. It completely changed my day. I’m so grateful for the kindness of others. In the trail there is a saying, “The trail provides,” and it’s so incredibly true.

Before I knew it I had done 7.2 miles and arrived at Low Gap Shelter. That’s when Hoagie told me that the big storm coming in was going north of us and there was only a 20% chance of rain for the rest of the day! Then she and the rest of the tramily convinced me to hike an additional 7.4 miles to Blue Mountain shelter. Why did I agree to this?

Most of the afternoon was amazing; a steady uphill and me listening to my audio book. I was walking really slow,  it I was enjoying myself. Then I started to get tired. About 2 miles out there were lots of rocks and it was steep. I really wanted to stop and set up camp. Every few minutes I’d stop to check my GutHook App to see how far away I was.

Even though it was hard, I made it! 14.6 miles, my highest mileage so far! I was later told that everyone was worried I wouldn’t make it and that I’d be made. 

2 women I passed on the trail a few times where there along with a TON of other people. There had to be 35 people at the shelter that night. These ladies are amazing and I set up my tent near them, way away from the actual shelter. I showed them how to do the PCT bear hang. Hilarity insued as we couldn’t get the rock over the branch and one of them, who I dubbed, “Duck and Cover” for her trail name, kept flinging it in the opposite direction. While this was going on someone was playing instruments and singing (poorly). Normally I try not to be judge and things like this don’t bother me,  it by this point I had hiked 14.6 miles and hadn’t even dinner yet, so I was in no mood and it really needed to stop. Luckily, eventually it did.

The funny part about all that was Heavy Metal’s tent was set up in the middle of the singing and playing with a bunch of people watching. His name is Heavy Metal for a reason. It’s safe to say that isn’t his scene.

For dinner I had Mountajn House meal of Lasagna and I ate the entire thing! Look out hiker hunger!

Going into town tomorrow with Hatter and Heavy Metal!

Trail Day: 7

Sunday, March 28, 2021

  • Location: Hiawassee Holiday Inn
  • Start/End Time: ?
  • Weather Conditions: Passing Thunderstorms/Sunny

Finally, I slept amazing last night! Waking up this morning and getting moving was so easy.

It was a short uphill them down to Unicoi Gap. Heavy Metal, Hangry Hatter, and I got lucky and got a ride from a lovely man named Darrell whose wife is doing the trail to. He dropped us off in town at the grocery store, just in time for a huge thunderstorm to hit town.

After getting food we went to the gear store in town. I may have bought way too much food. Unfortunately they didn’t have any spandex shorts or shoes I wanted. I did get a pair of toe socks that Hoagie had suggested to help with my blisters in between my toes.

From there we went to a Hiawassee Brew and got beer and burgers. It was great to eat food someone else cooked. A little tipsy I hitchhiked to the Holiday Inn Express and got a ride with this really nice soccer mom. When I arrived the entire lobby was filled with Hikers.

I had found out early on there was only one washer and one dryer and when I checked in, hatter and I were sharing a room, I was able to get our laundry in right away. With help from the lovely cleaning staff I was able to get some free laundry detergent and change without going to the front desk where everyone was checking in.

After that I showered laid out all my wet stuff in the room and just chilled out for the day. I got my blog are ready to put online with the help of my friend Claire, and had pizza for dinner. It hit the spot.

Trail Day: 8

Monday, March 29, 2021

  • Location: Steeltrap Gap
  • Start/End Time: 9:15/3:30
  • Weather Conditions: Cold in the AM then sunny and warm

Slept amazing last night in my nice comfy bed! I didn’t want to get out of it this morning. But back to the trail I go!

Unfortunately, there was no hot breakfast when Hatter and I went to eat. They advertise a hot breakfast so when I checked out I asked for a small compensation. I expected $15-$20 off, but I was completely surprised when she only charge me a total of $50 for the room! Day made!

Went to the post office to pick up a package from my friend Megan and it wasn’t there. I requested to be forwarded to Franklin North Carolina one of my future stops.

After getting a ride to the trail from Darrell again (What a saint!) we started the 5 mile uphill slog to the tray Mountain and Shelter. With six days of food in my bag it was hell. Why did I buy six days of food?! That was really stupid, and I am never doing that again.

It Was very slow going and not an enjoyable hike with approximately 2500 feet of elevation gain in 1000 feet of elevation loss.

However, the views are spectacular and I met lots of new hikers today. Although I’ll never see them again because they were all hiking really fast.

When we reach the amazing view at tray mountain we decided to do additional two-ish miles to steel trap gap. Luckily from there it was mostly downhill.

We met up with Bumi, who was at one of the shelters several nights ago. He ended up staying with us at sealed shop gap and we were joined by two other young guys.

After the hilarious hassle of putting up a bunch of bare bags how to made a fire and the six of us spent the night swapping stories and laughing our asses off. It was a great night on the trail.

One of our frequent topics of conversation is the bear canister that Hatter Brought with him for a specific part of the trail that said you needed bear canisters. We did in fact not need a bear canister during that section because there was a bear box at the shelter we stayed at. He’s going to talk about it, correction complain about it, all the way to Maine this will never not be hilarious.

Trail Day: 9

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

  • Location: Some hotel near a lake
  • Start/End Time: 8/1:30
  • Weather Conditions: Cold in the AM then really hot

I didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag this morning. It was so cold and all I wanted to do was stay curled up in my nice warm sleeping bag. But that’s not how hiking the Appalachian Trail goes so I got up.

The weather today was going to be amazingly sunny all day with just a little bit of wind in the morning. The plan was to do 13.7 miles to Plum Orchard Shelter just shy of the North Carolina border.

Hatter and I left camp around eight and started the uphill climb while it was still chilly out. We were making great time and around 11:30 met up with a ridge runner who said the weather had changed from rain mid day tomorrow to torrential rain starting in evening followed by a night with lows in the high teens.

When it comes to hiking and being outdoors I can deal with cold and I can deal with rain however the combination of the two is just asking for hypothermia to set in. I made the decision to go back into Hiawassee Georgia and spend the next two nights in a hotel.

Jacqueline, who I had met several days before texted me saying that she was also in Hiawassee and I could share a room with her. Hatter after much deliberation decided to join us.

When we reached Dick’s Creek Gap I was able to arrange for a shuttle to come get us and take us to the hotel Jacqueline was staying at. After we were dropped off I went up to Jacqueline’s room, 219, and knocked on the door to no response. Turns out lines of information got crossed between myself and the shuttle driver and we ended up at the wrong hotel. By the time I realized this Hatter had already gotten a room so we ended up staying here.

After ordering and devouring a Dominos pizza and a salad we decided to try and do some slack packing tomorrow. Slack packing is when you leave majority of your heavy year at a hostel or hotel so you can do more miles in a shorter period of time. However, we are in an area with very few road crossings that people can actually get to without four-wheel-drive. So tomorrow we will be hiking from Dick‘s Creek gap to Blue Ridge Gap and walking about a mile to a paved road.

It took a while of us contacting shuttle drivers but unfortunately everyone was super busy. Luckily Darrell, whose wife is hiking the AT too and was really nice and gave us a ride the other day is still in town, agreed to pick us up and drop us off. Little does he know we’re going to buy them dinner tomorrow night to say thank you.

The rest of the day consisted of my bag and everything in it exploding all around our hotel room and sitting on our balcony overlooking the lake. And thanks to my friend EJ I was able to watch a few more episodes of A Discovery of Witches before bed.

Trail Day: 10

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

  • Location: Some hotel near a lake…again
  • Start/End Time: 8:15/11:30 both in the AM
  • Weather Conditions: Cold, Windy, and Rainy

Woke up pretty early and had the most amazing night sleep on my little mini couch in the hotel. Had breakfast downstairs and met fellow New Englander, Mamasaurus. Darrell came to pick us up at eight and we were out on the trail by 8:15. Today we are not messing around.

Upon arrival at Dick’s Creek Gap we met a hiker that when I introduced myself said, “Oh, I’ve heard about you.” Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but here we are. I’m hoping my want to spread good vibes and knowledge on the trail precedes me.

And just like that we were hiking and it was pouring rain within about an hour we were soaked through but we’re already on mile two out of six for the day. Boy, slack packing is easy!

Even though I’ve only been on the trail for nine days I had forgotten how easy it is to hike without a giant pack on. We saw several hikers who were completely soaked through and heading to the next shelter. I hope they’re able to dry out a little before heading to bed so they’re not cold. Sending them all positive vibes out into the world.

At around 11 we arrived at Blue Ridge gap and started walking the impassable road lvia car down to pavement or Darrell and pick us up. The walk was completely downhill, which means tomorrow we’re hiking that entire thing up here with full packs. It’s going to suck but I still think it was worth it to get in a few miles instead of taking a zero day.

When Darrell picked us up he told us that his wife was getting off the trail for the night as well so will get to meet her when we go to dinner tonight.

Back at the hotel our room turned hiker trash paradise: We used a luggage cart and my paracord to create a makeshift Laundry line and used the hair dryer to dry out shoes. Everything should be nice and dry for tomorrow.

I caught up on this journal because I didn’t write it last night, and did a little self care by taking a nice warm bath that may have lasted 2 hours. I’m actually sitting in the bath while I write this.

Later on Darrel and his wife, Lone Wolf, picked us up and we went to Hiawassee Brew for dinner. It turned out to be Music Bingo night and I won $15 to spend on dinner! After a few rounds of bingo, 2 rounds of beers, and 12 hot wings in my belly we called it a night.

Trail Day: 11

Thursday, April 1, 2021

  • Location: Standing Indian Shelter
  • Start/End Time: 8:30/5:15
  • Weather Conditions: Cold and Windy

A great shuttle driver and AT class of 2016 member, Grace picked us up and dropped us and 2 other hikers off at Blue Ridge Gap. 

The uphill in the old dirt road was terrible. Someone driving a Jeep drive by and didn’t offer a ride. Thought it was kind of rude, but maybe that’s because I would offer a ride, but whatever.

It took about 2 hours after I joined the AT, but after even more uphill I FINALLY reached the border between Georgia and North Carolina! I thought I’d have a little more of an emotional reaction, but I hugged that tree real hard, took a few pictures, and I was continuing upwards on the toughest uphill so far.

I have to say, I’m not sure why anyone quits in Georgia. The terrain isn’t terrible and while there are lots of ups and downs it’s not too bad. However, after the uphill going into North Carolina I’d understand if someone quit upon entering.

The ascent was not only steep, but the wind was whipping and it became really cold. I had a lot of layers on and took my winter mittens out too. So glad I ended up packing them!

Just before stopping for lunch I put my headphones in and listened to my new auto book Master of the Reveals. 

I stopped for lunch at Muskrat Creek Shelter and Hatter joined me soon after. Before we left we ran into Will and Nick, the young guys from the other day and they were planning on heading to the same shelter that night. That made me smile. I enjoy their company.

After lots of breaks and some shivering I finally reached Standing Indian Shelter (terrible name, how they haven’t changed this by now is beyond me). There were about 8 other through hikers there, but I was able to get a spot in the shelter. Will and Hatter let me put my sleeping bag between them for the night to try and keep warm.

We had a fire that warmed us up a bit that Nick started. Will was boiling water and I shared some of my hot chocolate packets with everyone. As cold as it was, it was a great night.

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